Protestors rally with dance party outside St. George City Council meeting

Posted at 10:01 PM, Nov 06, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-07 00:01:45-05

ST. GEORGE, Utah – Close to 100 people gathered on the steps of the city hall Thursday for a dance party

The dancing was part of a protest while the city council met inside. Those involved said they wanted to send a message that ordinances governing special event permits for outdoor dance parties are too restrictive.

“We love to dance, that’s what we want to do,” participant Marco Perez said. “We should be able to dance whenever we want, wherever we want without a permit, without permission.”

The protest comes almost two weeks after police threatened to shut down a Halloween party sponsored by Washington City based Heart of Dixie. Event Coordinator Jared Keddington said he believed they had a permit for the dance party. The city said his application came in too late for the city council to approve a dance. The incident has drawn massive public outcry, with many condemning the city for its actions.

“There’s parents with kids saying, 'I don’t want my kids to grow up in a community where they can’t go out and dance, where they’re going to be sitting at home bored,'” Keddington said.

City spokesperson Marc Mortensen said the denial of the dancing permit was not about the dancing, but rather the permit. But Mortensen said the mayor and city council have committed to reviewing the process to see if changes are needed. City staff are preparing information for a work session coming up next week.

“We’re going to present to them our findings on doing some research with other cities and their processes and the processes they go through,” Mortensen said.

The protest lasted well over an hour, while the city council heard public comment. Council members took no action tonight, and Mortensen said definitively dancing is not illegal.

“Dancing is absolutely lawful in St. George,” Mortensen said. “If anyone tells you otherwise they’re lying to you.”